In an ideal world we'd all. be able to afford to eat organically, but given that most of us can't, then which foods should be the priority?
Fruit and veg usually get sprayed with pesticides meaning they have higher levels on the skins, so smaller varieties with a higher skin to flesh ratio such as grapes, cherries and berries, tend to have higher levels than larger fruits. Salad leaves have higher levels for this exact reason.
Potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, apples, nectarines and peaches are the other candidiates with the highest pesticide levels.
Thicker skins and rinds prevent so much absorption into the flesh and generally aren't eaten so grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes, melons, avocados and bananas are less important on your organic priority list. But if you're using the peel or zest in cooking remember to buy organic.
You can also peel non-organic fruit and veg to significantly reduce the pesticide content and you should give your fruit and veg a good wash before using them, even when you buy organically as organic produce can be treated with pesticides, just at a much much lower level and only in certain circumstances.
After fruit and veg my next priority for going organic would be meat and diary produce. Non-organic farming methods involve systematic use of antibiotics and growth hormones at high levels which end up in the final produce you're eating. You wouldn't want to regularly be taking antibiotics and hormones so why would you want to eat them. Organic meat in particular can be expensive but I rarely eat meat and don't ever cook it at home so it's just not a problem.
Personally I don't differentiate when I'm shopping as organic foods aren't always available so my basked ends up about 50/50 organic to non-organic. Still it makes a noticeable difference to my food bill but I justify this extra spend and balance it out with these cost savings, which are all motivated by their health benefits but also happen to save money:
- I don't drink alcohol
- I rarely buy meat, eggs or dairy produce
- I don't buy processed snacks or ready meals
- I prepare most of my meals at home and take them to work rather than buying expensive city lunches
- I don't drink coffee so don't have an expensive starbucks habit
- I eat out only once or twice a week
We all have our own priorities for how to spend our hard earned cash, but for me health is at the top of the list and is a long-term investment to which you may not see the most significant benefits til old age. For me, living a long and healthy life is worth the price tag.